Gameday: Tyler Scott’s remarkable ascent reaches its end

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Gameday: Tyler Scott’s remarkable ascent reaches its end

Senior defensive end Tyler Scott hunts down a quarterback. After nine sacks his junior year, Scott has six sacks through 10 games of his final season.

Senior defensive end Tyler Scott hunts down a quarterback. After nine sacks his junior year, Scott has six sacks through 10 games of his final season.

Brian Lee/Daily Senior Staffer

Senior defensive end Tyler Scott hunts down a quarterback. After nine sacks his junior year, Scott has six sacks through 10 games of his final season.

Brian Lee/Daily Senior Staffer

Brian Lee/Daily Senior Staffer

Senior defensive end Tyler Scott hunts down a quarterback. After nine sacks his junior year, Scott has six sacks through 10 games of his final season.

Alex Putterman, Assistant Sports Editor

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Roughly two years ago, the last time The Daily profiled Tyler Scott, defensive line coach Marty Long talked about the direction Scott was headed.

“He has an inner drive that pushes him to be a great player,” Long said at the time. “He’s not that yet, but he’s on the train. The train is moving.”

Then, Scott was a sophomore just breaking into Northwestern’s starting lineup, with one college sack to his name. Now, he’s arguably the Wildcats’ best player and one of the Big Ten’s best defensive ends. He’s owner of 16 career sacks, ranking sixth in NU history, just behind fifth-place Dwayne Missouri.

“The train has left the station,” Long said this week. “The inner drive, the intangibles, the smart part of the game — everything like that he has. He’s that on the field and off of the field.”

Scott was lightly recruited out of high school in Warren, Ohio, where he played outside linebacker. Gambling that he could transition smoothly to defensive end, NU was the only BCS school to offer him a scholarship.

But Scott injured his shoulder before his freshman season, missing the entire year of practice and games. Scott did what he could in the film room, but Coach Pat Fitzgerald says it was when he recovered and began weight lifting that his career took off.

Scott spent his redshirt freshman season as a reserve defensive end and special teams standout, then earned a starting spot in 2011. The following season he became a star, tying for the conference lead with nine sacks, garnering honorable mention all-conference honors and the team’s defensive MVP award.

This year, with defenses focused on stopping him, he’s been almost as good, with six sacks, a huge forced fumble against Ohio State and an even bigger interception against Nebraska.

“It’s crazy how fast everything has gone,” Scott said. “The journey I’ve been on — from being a hurt guy coming in to being in the role I am now — I think I’ve grown as a person. I’m just going to cherish all the memories, all the wins and all the little things.”

Scott essentially refuses to talk about his own accomplishments, offering team-focused answers to all individually oriented questions. The moment he’ll most remember from his college career is last year’s Gator Bowl victory. Sack totals are only important insofar as they help the team win. Ideally, he says, his legacy won’t be being a great player but rather being part of great Cats teams.

It’s OK that Scott is so averse to bragging because Long is happy to do it for him. The defensive line coach has been at NU for six seasons and says the only comparable player he’s coached was Chicago Bears defensive end Corey Wootton. Long called Scott “a coach’s dream” and raved about the example he has set for current and future linemen.

“What he leaves is respect,” Long said. “The guys will always see training video of him and how he plays the game. His legacy will be here long after he’s gone.”

Scott will graduate in December with a degree in Learning and Organizational Change from SESP, then pursue a pro career. Fitzgerald said he expects to see Scott playing in the NFL, but that’s far from a sure thing. Cbssports.com ranks Scott 47th among 2014 defensive ends. and ESPN puts him 53rd — at a position that had 20 players drafted a year ago.

So for the second time, Scott will be undersized and overlooked, striving to buck expectations.

“I just go back to how I was recruited in high school,” he says. “You never know. I’m just going to keep working hard, and hopefully something falls through and things align, and I’ll be somewhere.”

Scott is quick to point out his time at NU isn’t over, but it’s certainly running short. The Cats have two games left, three if things break right, before the train departs from the Evanston rail.

“I’ve had a great time,” Scott said. “And if I could go back and do it again, I’d do the same thing.”

Email: asputt@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @AlexPutt02

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